In the Media

CLAS Warfare

PUBLISHED July 5, 2012

Dear President

Thank you for your invitation to "consult? on this "robust but not all-consuming scheme? for which you want me to pay £240. Please note my submissions below.

The consultation is timely. Clients are universally concerned with your "indicators of quality?. Every time I go down to the police station, the first question they ask is, "Bruce, can I see your Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS) Accreditation?? Most insist on an update on the day before trial. "Thank God, I know we?ll get that interview chucked out now!?

A partner in Allen & Overy, such as yourself, will regard £240 as no more than the price of an indulgent lunch (that is, if said lunch isn?t paid for by your clients). Your assistant bills that in 30 mins. Your CV however, lacks gravitas in Crime. £240 is a sum that can represent three mornings work, if not more, for a criminal law practitioner. May I politely suggest you wake up and smell the Tesco Lunch Deal instead?

Mr Harrison informs me that the Legal Services Commission considers yours to be "a proportionate approach?.

Not impressed. The recommendation of an organisation widely derided for its senior managers? inability to refill a stapler will not command the respect in the profession that Mr Harrison imagines. The LSC is renowned for following its fiats with a fig-leaf of consultation to head off judicial review; perhaps the Society is adopting the same approach. No wonder the LSC approves. They are adept at imposing rules on us to justify their own existence.

I note your background is in regulatory work. Criminal firms are regulated to death. Never mind the Solicitors? Regulation Authority, fee earning at my firm stopped for a week in order to comply with the demands of bean-counters from Solicitors? Quality Mark. We passed, only to find that we have another audit from the LSC six weeks later. Forgive me if I fail to see the need for a third qualification from a body that was supposedly divested of its regulatory functions in order to concentrate on actually representing the profession. Even if this nonsense were necessary, it would not be hard to share data with SQM and the LSC, would it?

Precisely what has the Law Society got that these two bodies haven?t? My £240 obviously?This is a money-making exercise combined with an attempt at preserving turf. "Let?s keep a finger in the regulatory pie shall we?? Five thousand duty solicitors at £240 a pop is £1,200,000 ? a sum which does not include the money from those solicitors who cannot stand the duty call-outs but still do crime.

Maybe not a huge sum in Allen & Overy?s terms but, as Tesco?s says, "Every little helps.?

? Bruce Reid